For Tazewell County Clerk

 

 

 

Response to Peoria Journal Star Candidate Resume

 

Name: John C. Ackerman

 

Family: Married to Maria Randitsas Ackerman since 9/27/08. Father of two sons and one daughter: Christian John Ackerman (7), Dimitrios George Ackerman (6), Anastasia Maria Ackerman (9 months)

 

Address: 2257 Washington Road, Washington, Illinois

 

Phone: (309) 635-7624

 

Birth Date & Year: 4/28/78

 

Office Sought: Tazewell County Clerk

 

Office Presently Held: NA

 

How long have you held it?: NA

 

Please detail present or past leadership positions, or special interest, within that office:

 

2014 Republican Candidate for Tazewell County Clerk, falling just shy of election against the now retiring long term incumbent.

 

Past member of the Tazewell County Board. Appointed as a County Board representative to the University of Illinois Tazewell County Extension Office. Was honored to have been elected three times to represent the taxpayers of Tazewell County, each time at the top of the ballot with the highest vote total.

 

I was recognized by the Bloomington Pantagraph in 2008 with a "Sunbeam" Award for my work to improve Transparency of Tazewell County Government via my website (www.JohnCAckerman.com). In their Editorial concerning this recognition, they stated "Give Tazewell County Board Member John C. Ackerman a "Sunbeam" award for his role in improving access to public information for his constituents." They went on to say "Normally, we wouldn't promote a single board member's site... But it contains useful information - information that should be, but isn't, on the official government site... we commend Ackerman for filling in the gap and for following through with his campaign pledge to improve communication and access to information."

 

Offices Previously Held: (Please detail years held and leadership efforts):

 

Tazewell County Board Member, District Three: 2008 - 2014
Tazewell County Board Member, District Three: 2002 - 2006
Washington City Council Member, Alderman Ward Four: 1999 - 2002
Washington City Council Finance & Personnel Committee, Chairman: 2001 - 2002
Washington City Council Public Safety Committee, Member: 1999 - 2002

 

Occupation: Owner of Ackerman Consulting, a Media Relations Company. Representing my company, I hold the position of Director of Media Relations for the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago.

 

Previous Relevant Occupations:

 

Horticulturist, Sheridan Nursury in Peoria (2013 - 2015), JR's Landscape Maintenance in Groveland (2012 - 2013), Old Heritage Landscaping in Pekin (2011, 2000 - 2001, 1999 - 2000), Robby Wholesale in East Peoria (2002 - 2004), Dutch Landscaper in Germantown Hills (1996 - 1999)

 

Garden Center Manager, Bloomington Division of Greenview Nursery, 2010

 

Administrative Assistant to the Operations Manager working at Caterpillar's Transmission Business Unit in East Peoria, 2007 - 2010

 

Executive Administrative Assistant to Regional Vice President, Volt Technical Staffing, 2007

 

Executive Administrative Assistant to Director of Quality Control, OSF Saint Francis 2006-2007

 

Administration, State Farm Insurance Corporate Headquarters, Learning and Education Division, 2006

 

Budget and Staffing Administration, Technisource working at State Farm Insurance Corporate South, Data & Information Strategies Division, 2004 - 2006

 

Education:

University of Illinois in Springfield, Studied Political Science
Illinois Central College, Studied Horticulture & Political Science
Washington Community High School, Class of 1997

Community Activities:

Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, Metropolis Council Member: 2014 - Present
Friends of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Committee Member: 2013 - Present
Adventure Sports Outdoors Magazine, Columnist: 2008 – 2014
Bill Brady for Governor Campaign, Tazewell County Coordinator : 2012 - 2014, 2008 – 2010
All Saints Greek Orthodox Church, Parish Council Member: 2008 - 2012
University of Illinois Tazewell County Extension Office, Treasurer: 2004 - 2006
University of Illinois Tazewell County Extension Office, Campaign Coordinator for Ballot Initiative: 2005 – 2006
Dan Rutherford State Senate Campaign, Tazewell County Campaign Coordinator: 2002
W.D. Boyce Council, Watomalo District Fundraising Event Coordinator: 2000 – 2001
Model Illinois Government, Donna Lennon Award Recipient: 2000
Model Illinois Government Participant, Illinois Central College & University of Illinois in Springfield: 1999 & 2000
Illinois Nurserymen’s Association, Student Scholarship Award: 1997
Order of the Arrow, Vigil Honor Member: 1995
Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout: 1993

 

What do you consider your 2 or 3 most important accomplishments in office, in your profession, or in the community?

A) In Political Office:

This would be a three way answer, including first my efforts as a Tazewell County Board Member from 2002 - 2006 that resulted in the placement of the Summit Road Extension in the PUATTS Funding Timeline. Placement on this list resulted in the completion of the roadway, which today serves as a vital North-South corridor dividing East Peoria and Washington and has successfully reduced roadway accidents in the area.

 

Second would be my efforts with the Sunnyland Business Association and the City of East Peoria as a Tazewell County Board Member in 2008 to get IDOT to include landscape medians and crosswalks in the reconstruction of Illinois Route 8 through Sunnyland.

 

Finally, my efforts from 2008 to the present to increase Transparency of Tazewell County government. I have a solid record for not only advocating for more Transparency but also a proven track record of successfully implementation of Transparency initiatives. I was recognized by the Bloomington Pantagraph in 2008 with a "Sunbeam" Award for my work to improve Transparency of Tazewell County Government.

 

B) In your Profession:

I was approached in late 2015 and offered the opportunity to form my own private business and write my own job description with that company's main client. How rare is the opportunity to not only be able to build your own company but also detail your responsibilities. That opportunity and the success and pleasure I have enjoyed owning my own business I consider an accomplishment and honor.

In my position with my business, I have had the opportunity to lobby State, Regional, and National political leaders. In 2013, I was a member of a group that accomplished what was considered impossible; gaining passage by the State of Illinois of a resolution in support of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the head of the 2nd largest Christian denomination worldwide. The resolution had failed three times previously and was considered a lost cause. After being approached and reviewing the situation, I developed a Plan of Action centered on direct lobbing of State Senators to gain passage.

 

Despite the State Senators knowing that the Senate President John Cullerton disapproved of our efforts and actively worked to deign passage of this resolution, our hard work and statewide lobbying campaign gained Sponsorship from 42 out of the 59 State Senators, endorsements from Governor Pat Quinn, United States Senator Richard Durbin, the Mayor and City Council of the City of Chicago, the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, and His Eminence Francis Cardinal George of Chicago to name a few. The result of this hard work was the unbelievable unanimous passage of SR70 on May 31st, 2013.

 

In late 2016, I began organizing the same lobbying effort to gain passage in the State of Indiana and State of Minnesota of the same resolution in support of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. By the summer of 2017, the resolution has been passed by the Indiana State Senate and support from the Governor of Indiana and Governor of Minnesota. Based on our efforts, we are confident we will gain complete passage in the States of Indiana and Minnesota by this summer.

 

Finally, in 2017 I was asked to organize a national political lobbying campaign to gain official United States Government recognition of the Genocide of Christian Minority Population of the Middle East. Considered by political pundits nationwide as impossible, I once more organized a lobbying campaign that focused on Congressional Members within the six state under the oversight of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago but then grew this effort to a nationwide endeavor. I was honored when not only the resolution passed, the first time the United States Government officially recognized a Genocide as it was occurring, but especially when a member of Congress from the State of California officially recognized on the floor of the United States House of Representatives our leadership of this effort and importance of our leadership in gaining passage.

 

C) In your Community:

I was raised by parents and neighbors to always do what is required to help make our community great. I have always participated in numerous activities within our county for the betterment of all citizens. It is not enough to participate in your community when you are an elected official; all citizens need to volunteer and assist in community efforts to improve our communities whenever possible.

 

 

 

Tazewell County Clerk Candidates Questionnaire

 

1) What experiences and personal attributes qualify you for this job?

I believe my 2014 Campaign for Tazewell County Clerk and the required homework and research that was required to come so close to winning against a long-term incumbent not only prepared me for that campaign but also continues to benefit me in this campaign. My opponents have not taken this path, have not researched the office and done the homework to bring forward a detailed Strategic Plan to improve this vital office. This strength of preparedness by my campaign and shortcoming of my opponents to do the same is an example of the preparedness to assume this position.

 

In my business, as described above in detail, I have organized successful efforts that achieved success when others disregarded the possible. All of these political lobbying efforts required researching the problem, development of a Strategic Plan that could lead to success, and then the required follow-through required to put that Strategic Plan into action. In this campaign for Tazewell County Clerk, I have already researched the problems and developed the required Strategic Plan that will deliver success. All that is required now is the support of the citizens of Tazewell County to elect me to this position and give me the opportunity to implement this Strategic Plan to improve our Tazewell County Clerk's Office.

 

2) What is your general assessment of how the clerk's office presently works, including its strengths and weaknesses?

The strengths of the Tazewell County Clerk's office has always been the outstanding employees.

For the past several years, the shortcomings and failings of the office have been heard but not addressed. I also have found that the office has become relaxed in day-to-day operations and lacking a vision for the future to grow, strengthen, and improve the service provided to the taxpayers of Tazewell County. The office has become to accustomed to at best meeting expectations but never exceeding expectations. These shortcomings have been highlighted in the past four years after once having my Strategic Plan, the leadership of this office failed to implement this needed plan, falling back into the comfortable leisure of just barely meeting the required level of services.

 

My comprehensive Strategic Plan provides this vision for growing, strengthening and improving the office of Tazewell County Clerk. And I believe my long career in the Private Sector and current experience as a small business owner, where continual growth, strengthening and improvement is a requirement, has provided me with the instincts to continually strive for further improvements.

 

3) What changes would you make in the office, if any?

The office needs to restore the faith of the taxpayers that it will deliver nothing short of the highest level of constituent service. And if a mistake is made, and as humans it is inevitable a mistake can occur, that it will be acknowledge, that the office will review what happened and why it occurred, and will make every effort to develop a plan of action to reduce the chance of future occurrences.

Additionally, the office has for too long operated while knowing of the failings in transparency. Despite the availability of funding, staffing and equipment to improve the level of transparency provided, the office has only recently made strives to improve. And these changes have only scratched the surface and not fully addressed the shortcomings that still exist and could easily be rectified.

Finally, we will need to work hard to break the reputation the office has acquired for being late with the reporting of our election results. Election after election, for years on end, and despite media pressure for improvements the current office has made minimal efforts to improve the time it takes to accurately report the election results.

 

My approach to each of these and much more can be found in my comprehensive Strategic Plan. Many involve a different attitude towards these problems, in many cases I acknowledge the shortcomings that are known to all but deigned or simply ignored by the current office holder. A few involve the new updated equipment that will need to receive the support of the County Board to proceed forward.

 

4) Are the resources for this office sufficient? How might the office achieve additional efficiency?

I believe the budget and staffing levels to be adequate for the proposals I have brought forward. For many of my proposals, the funding and the staffing have been in place for years to provide for the needed improvements. The current office holder has simply chosen not to utilize them.

 

Improving customer service is a driving force behind the need for higher transparency. Many of these proposals I have put forth will also reduce expenses, for example the cost of printing materials that will under my proposals be made available online.

 

5) Could the relationship between the clerk's office and the County Board be improved? If so, how so?

I have supported and will support a "Team Tazewell" approach to County Government. While the County Board and Countywide Elected Officials have separate responsibilities, all are looking to deliver the highest level of service to the citizens of Tazewell County. Together we can be stronger than we could be separated.

 

6) The clerk's office conducts elections, of course? Are there any specific challenges there, anything you'd do to improve that process in terms of efficiency and accuracy - for the sake of faster election night returns, for instance?

As far as the election division, my proposals are based off of effective, proven proposals already in place in other comparable counties. Their success can and will be seen following the implementation of my proposals here in Tazewell County. Reporting the results accurately is the top priority, but we also must not ignore the need for timely reporting of those results. Our customers waiting for election results on election day are comparable to a customer in a drive-up at a fast food establishment; they want their order correct but they also want it timely.

 

I do question why despite this widely known issue and other acknowledge shortcomings in the office, at our last debate in late 2017 both of my opponents could not identify a current problem with the office or offer a proposal to improve this vital county government office. If this issue is visible enough to be a questioned here, why can it not be seen by candidates seeking this office?

 

 

 

Support John C. Ackerman's Campaign with a donation here!